In building your business, as in daily life, there are always goals that seem impossible to achieve. Starting up it may seem impossible to secure the right co-founders, or to raise an initial round of seed funding. Achieving product-market fit may be eluding you as much as angel investors seem to be avoiding you.
However, when you do get customers and investors banging on your door you laugh and realise that what had seemed impossible only a moment ago is actually possible and, in hindsight, you wonder why you were so anxious about achieving those goals. It is all a matter of perspective. Take the word ‘impossible’ – the addition of one tiny apostrophe and it transforms into “i’m possible”.
How are you tackling your impossibles?
In this post Rand Leeb-du Toit shares insights from his interview with Anthony Kirby on the Chase Your Impossible podcast. You can listen to the entire 53 minute show on iTunes or Overcast. We’ve also included a direct link to the recording on Libsyn.
The reason I accepted going onto the show was that I agree with its mantra:
‘Live a life of purpose – on purpose’ – this relates to every single person chasing that one thing that keeps them awake at night – and that one thing which everyone has told them is out of reach. It could be a world changing business concept or a management position. It is exactly what it is for each individual and the ethos does not change regardless of monetary outcomes or global outcomes.
The show is all about showing people that whatever that ‘impossible’ looks like for them – it can be achieved.
You can listen to the show to get my backstory. However, I felt it would be useful to highlight for you some of the nuggets I focused on.
My overall message, which is very much linked to my personal journey (I had a sudden cardiac death experience in early 2014), is that life can take an unexpected turn at any point, so seize the moment.
My mantra in the 90’s, which I believe still applies today – especially with respect to viral activities – is that the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away and can do both at lightning fast pace.
Insights from my venture capital experience:
*Entrepreneurs are by nature intensely curious and as a result there is a tension between you being totally focused and wanting to satisfy your curiosities.
* Choose your co-founders carefully and your investors even more carefully. Less is usually more in both respects.
* You may have many advisers, but should only have one voice of reason against whom you parse the competing and conflicting sets of advice you receive. I recommend a coach for this voice of reason role.
* Don’t spend ages on a business plan, rather, find ways to demonstrate traction.
As business builders, we should focus on the big things, that make a difference, rather than on small technology plays. Apps may currently be all the rage, but do we really need another social X, Y or Z when there are so many challenges in areas like health for example.
You can be global from anywhere. Your issues are global issues. Your opportunities are global opportunities.
Remember to listen to your inner voice. Find your soul work. Don’t do a startup or activity simply for starting up’s sake or to keep busy – make meaning.
Society builds constructs and constraints around you. Break them down. Ignore them. Pave your own path.
There are some things you can control, many you cannot. Rather than fighting against them, go with the universal flow. Accept the path that appears in front of you and enjoy the moment.
So much of what guides us on our quests is internal, it is already within us, we just need to learn how to listen to it. Think of the squirrel that is born in summer. It has never experienced winter, but innately knows to store nuts for the coming winter.
To me chasing your impossible is not necessarily an external activity. We need to allow our impossible to emerge from within ourselves. It does not require travel to the far ends of the earth, nor does it require busy work.
Remember also that success is what you do, it is not a place you’re trying to get to. Find your reason for being, your ikigai, and you will find yourself.
Anthony asked me two questions which were really poignant:
* If everything was taken away tomorrow – what would you do?
Start again. The liberation that comes with starting afresh with no boundaries, no constraints is amazing. I highly recommend that everyone try this at least once in their life.
* If you couldn’t do what you doing now what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t coaching I’d write full time. But I really enjoy working with incredible people – they buoy me, I draw energy from them and would find another way to work with them.
My final advice came from a friend who recently lost his young son. His words are both powerful and moving:
All experiences change you;
Every day we fall asleep different than when we awoke.
Sometimes the differences are too small to honor and we let them go unnoticed.
Sometimes the differences are great and we tag them “life changing” and set out consciously to live under them as a banner worthy of our souls.
Losing my son definitely falls under the latter kind.
every encounter with everyone we meet, whether a stranger or an old friend, is a chance to leave that person all the better for it.
In that way, by losing my son, I am made a better person by having known him in the first place. Not because he has been lost to us, but because he was present.
When he was alive, he made our burdens somehow seem lighter.
when you leave someone leave them better than you found them.
Time marches on.
Change is a constant, human condition.
Rand Leeb-du Toit is Chair & CEO of EXOscalr the exponential growth coaching and advisory firm. He is a former venture capitalist, Gartner analyst and lawyer.